After three straight solid starts in a row, Trevor Cahill was just torched for a career-high 10 runs in two-plus innings by the Yankees on Friday night. He gave up five runs in a second inning that only ended because Derek Jeter was thrown out at third after tagging up on a sac fly and then five more without getting an out in the third.
Cahill opened the season 6-0 with a 1.72 ERA. He outpitched his peripherals as part of a surprising 18-win season in 2010, but this time around, his strikeout rate was well up and he surrendered just three homers in his first eight starts. His K/BB ratio stood at 45/16 in 52 1/3 innings.
Things have gone very wrong since. In his last 14 starts, he has a 56/42 K/BB ratio and he’s allowed 10 homers in 83 2/3 innings.
Velocity is one problem. He averaged 90.4 mph with his fastball last year, and he was right around there at the beginning of this season. However, he’s averaged closer to 86-89 mph lately and he’s down to 89.1 mph for the season, according to Fangraphs.com data.
Also a concern is the regression of his curveball. Based on a couple of early-season viewings, I thought it was turning into the strikeout pitch he needed and I got quite a bit more bullish on his future as a result. Unfortunately, he’s no longer throwing it for strikes or getting swings and misses with it.
It’s possible Cahill is hurting and just hasn’t told anyone about it. The erosion of both his command and velocity suggests it. But hopefully that’s not the case. As stated above, Cahill had turned in three straight quality starts coming into this one. Still, he’s an A’s pitcher and it’s never a good idea to give one of them the benefit of the doubt.